The one about “Is false damask a twill?”

I was weaving Norbert’s extremely handsome scarfs a couple of weeks ago and watching the diagonal twill lines shift and thinking I had seen a scarf with blocks that didn’t have those diagonal lines.

And then I started paging thru my Strickler book and found what I was thinking of! The tie up is 246 or 247 in the Strickler book. I just did my usual stripes, tied up my heddles and then treadled the blocks however I wanted…I made some really pretty scarfs!

Can you see how the twill line is less pronounced? It looks more like a solid colored block.

Two are 24 EPI with wefts of zephyr and the other of 20/2 silk. The third scarf I retreaded my reed to 20 EPI and wove that with zephyr. The texture is lighter and like crepe . Very nice and drape!

I just put on another warp for a set of three scarfs in shades of muted green but I’m having a harder time finding weft colors I like. I finished one using two different shades of hand dyed silk…

But then I can’t figure out what to use as weft for the next scarf…so I started sampling, and sampling. Do you do this…after one scarf…in the area that is supposed to be fringe that separates one scarf from the next…now I’ve woven 13 inches Of various colors and I don’t really like any of them…I might do the second one in black which is a completely different feeling…not sure if I like it or not…I’m afraid I’m going to be weaving for 90 inches and wondering the whole time if this was a mistake.

But I do have an idea for the third one…about 8 years ago I went to the Michigan League of Handweavers June conference at Hope College in Holland Michigan. They had a vendor area and I bought some silk which I have never used because It’s 60/2 silk. I didn’t know what that meant…but when I got home I took off the cellophane wrappers and discovered that It’s incredibly fine…finer than sewing thread. But I did get some gorgeous colors.

This silk needs to be set at 48 ends to an inch…at least…which is a lot of winding and a lot of picks per inch….I will let you know next week if my idea is a brilliant one or a mistake.

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The one about Color and Twills and Jayne….

I just read the best article by Deborah Heyman! It’s at Handwoven.com entitled “Controlling the primaries in your color mixing“. You need to read this article, especially if sometimes your weft turns your beautiful striped warp into mud. I’m going to paraphrase the article really badly for you, so go read the actual article…but essentially it says to watch out when all three primary colors are involved when crossing your warp and weft….if you have a mainly purple and red striped warp (and we know that blue and red make purple)….be careful mixing in that third primarily yellow. So if you use green….which is blue and yellow combined…it might get dicey….use a green that has a lot of blue in it, not a lime green that has a ton of yellow in it.

So I bet if Deborah Heyman reads this she will be pulling out her hair yelling at her iPad …”I never said that!”….so please, read the article…there’s a lot about warm primaries and cool primaries and there are really 6 primaries, not three, but…BE CAREFUL HOW YOU MIX THEM OR YOU WILL GET MUD!

So anyway, it’s an excellent article and I’ve been thinking about that as I warped and am weaving Norbert’s scarfs. So the majority of the stripes are kinda in the same family…light beige, brown and pale orange. I figure that’s red and yellow primaries…but then I put in this vibrant blue stripe to add interest ( which adds blue into the mix).

So for the first two scarfs, my main color was a russet weft with some shots of the other warp colors…they both turned out just fine. Oh! I meant to say really really handsome and masculine…that’s in case Norbert reads this….

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But I was getting a bit bored with that color scheme so I thought I would sample using the dark purple…it’s almost black…and black goes with everything, right? But it was a blue black kind of purple….and it just kinda sat there. It’s fine, but it felt flat and really dull. So I dug thru my Zephyr and I had some Plum. Which is also purple, but a very red purple…see what I’m doing…I’m listening to Deborah Haywood….and I tried that! It looks really good! …I’m so excited…I feel like I found the color logic I’ve been looking for…

Blue purple is next to the orange….red purple are the three stripes next to the white.

I wish I could talk about this to Jayne…she probably knew this already…Jayne Schaffer died last week and I miss her. I wasn’t Jayne’s best friend, or closest confidant…but she was my weaving mentor. She taught me about twills, and blocks ( I didn’t know what a block was…). Jayne came over to my house and we sat at the kitchen table and she explained block twills. On graph paper. Old school. I told her I felt like I wished I had started weaving 20 years ago and she told me it wasn’t too late. She told me I could weave anything I could design, and that I had a good grasp of color, and the best way to become a good weaver was to just weave. And weave some more. And if I had questions to come and ask her. So I did. A lot. She gave me confidence. She told me to buy a macomber loom, so I did. She recommended me to Artmakers. I worked harder to be good enough for Artmakers.

I miss her like someone took away my security blanket.

I don’t know where we go when we are gone, but if I could send her anything, I would send her friendship. I send my thanks. I send peace. I send no pain. I send deep cleansing breaths of crisp fall days. I send vistas of all the national parks that she loved. I send her every color I know and every color I hope to find. I send my love.

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What do I do with some of these colors?

I wouldn’t say my house is cluttered., Or that I have a bunch of collectibles packed away. But I have to admit I am a collector. Of colors. Of yarn. And I’m trying to be more discerning in what I buy yarn wise, but I am out of space in my yarn room. And I have thought that maybe I should have a palette….like a certain gold…( okay, I do collect a certain gold…Malabrigo makes a lovely one which is my go to when mixing a striped warp of zephyr…zephyr doesn’t come in that shade and it’s the perfect gold. And then my friend Gabe gave me a huge hank of also the exact right gold and the exact right orange…. so I have a back up hank.

Anyway, I pulled down my box of alpaca/ silk by webs. Some of it is a few years old, because I thought…a few years ago…I’d better buy one of each color because honestly, and you know this, those little color cards are hard to pick from. And dye lots vary. And maybe it would be really smart to have one of each color!

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Well it’s not smart! And here is my box of hard to use colors…you know they are hard to use because I haven’t used them. So I thought I’d better sort thru them because maybe not all of them are irredeemable. So here are the good colors…and yep I love that blue! And I wish I had more of that navy. And that light blue can come in handy sometimes. … and I need to keep all the greens because a friend just asked me why I never weave green scarfs…

But ugh, rust? And dark gray that is just really dark? And light rust that isn’t really orange ( because look above to what a really good orange looks like)…and this is a tuff plum…kinda brown when it’s dim. And I don’t know how to use that killer red…

So I pulled out all the colors that were making me worried and looked at them whenever I passed by for the next few days. And I thought I could do a Chicago windows scarf with the rust and put in tiny yellow stripes and use some of the other colors too….like the beige….why did I buy beige? But then I stumbled across a Youtube video by Jane Stafford…I belong to her online class but I’m about two years behind in watching…I’d better do that too…and she was weaving a towel in block twill and I thought…hmmm. I could do something like that….

So this is what I came up with

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The warp is dark purple on the edges, russet, then gold, light orange, gold, russet then dark purple in the middle…and then reverse.

And for the weft I can use any of the rest of the colors however I like. I will probably do an 8 inch sample of colors at the very start so I can see which colors I like. So that’s my game plan for the coming week. I should have my 8 harness macomber warped this weekend so I can show you what it looks like next week!

But then my husband walked by and heard me muttering about hard to use colors and said “Hey, I like those colors!” Hmmm, go figure! So then I came up with this…and since he has worn one of his scarfs till it’s ratty, and he is not a fan of purple, no matter how dark and manly I think it is….I came up with this…

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So I am probably doing this first and I will see if this uses up any of these colors!

I’m still weaving my chenille cowls. I got sidetracked dyeing fiber and spinning some yarn.

Meanwhile…this is what is in my dyeing pot right now….

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Hope everyone is staying safe and staying healthy!

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Slogging away…

I think I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had my small Norwood loom warped with a chenille scarf, but I was going to change that a bit…which I did…and boy was that a job!

I already had a scarf wound on, with weird blue and mustard striped of tencel…I don’t know what I was thinking…they weren’t spaced well and the mustard was not a good color…. in fat, this chenille was some that I had dyed when I first was learning how to dye and I had been dismayed…10 years ago?… about the colors…very girly…blue and pink…again…not sure what I had been thinking…

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Anyway, I digress, I pulled the whole scarf out, keeping the lease sticks holding the cross in place, so now I had a puddle of chenille on the floor in front of my loom. I looked at it, and realized I should have taken each thread out of the heddles before pulling it, but it was just too late to fix that. It was only a 6 inch wide scarf, I think that’s why I had put in the tencil stripes, but anyway, I cut those threads off and threw them away. Then I counted threads..60. Then I thought… And remembered I had seen a color and weave pattern in a book and that had also been chenille…so I spent a day looking through weaving books and getting totally sidetracked, but I found it! And did some calculations and figured out if I put a one inch stripe on each side, I would have enough width that I could weave this up and make cowls…so that’s the game plan! Chenille cowls in a color and weave pattern!

I wound a warp of 120 ends, 7 yards long. I then zip locked another bar to the apron on the back of my loom and slipped the start of the cross of the 120 ends of white chenille onto that. I added another set of lease sticks to the back of my loom, above the original lease sticks holding the handyed warp. ( actually. I didn’t have another set of lease sticks, I jury rigged a set out of some window blind slats I had saved from a broken blind). I weighted each warp, and slowly wound it on, being careful of the dyed one that was still threaded thru the heddles.

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Then I pulled the dyed warp out of the heddles, and rewarped the entire mess.

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Okay, it actually wasn’t much of a mess, just a bit time consuming to work with two sets of crosses…but it worked! See how it looks?

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There seems to be 2 weird white lines. Not sure if that’s a treading mistake or not being consistant with my beating, or if that’s where I advanced the warp….so I will figure that out. It’s been a long time since I used two ski shuttles, but I’m already speeding up!

So, that’s what I’ve been doing the past week…just slogging along…

Oh! And I got my two blue and white spider scarfs done! The first one used an alpaca yarn for the white weft and didn’t felt up like I was expecting…so it’s wider and looser…but very soft and nice. The second one I used zephyr (50/50 merino and silk) for both the blue and the white wefts and it is thicker, slightly narrower and more like photo in handwoven. I like both of them!

My game plan for the coming week is to continue weaving the chenille and to decide on what to put on my big loom…scarf….towels? Table runner? Rep weave pot mats? Hmmm….

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Maybe I will use this linen from Peter Patchies for a project… Mary Doezma coffee cup!

Stay safe everyone!

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Almost Becker 63

I don’t know how many of the weavers out there get VAV magazine…but you should! It’s a Swedish handweaving magazine, much like Handwoven, but where Handwoven focuses on the craft of weaving, it seems like VAV focuses on the art of weaving. Lots of articles in the front of the magazine looking at the career paths of different weavers, gallery openings and highlights of fiber exhibits, and then usually 5 or 6 projects near the back…ranging from very simple to complicated. Rarely using more than 8 shafts and often only 4 or two. Lots of plain weave stuff with the fiber or striping carrying the project. A really great magazine! I get my subscription from the Loom Room of Texas.

So I was paging thru an old issue of VAV…I’m sure it was VAV but I’ve gone thru all of them twice and I can’t find that darn article…sometimes life is like that…I will probably find the article as soon as I post this….and there was this little picture of a kitchen Towel called Becker 63.

It was a simple striped towel, the description said it was a damask weave and that John Becker was a renown danish weaver. But I needed a better picture of that towel so I googled it and Georg Jensen…who I thought only made sterling silver jewelry and place settings, had those towels on their website. This is what they said:

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This is a classic tea towel with a graphical pattern as its bearing design element. Woven from a strong linen and cotton combination providing optimal drying capacity.

The tea towel was designed in 1963 by the designer and weaver John Becker. It was the first tea towel designed for the damask collection and has maintained its popularity due to its timeless pattern. The design is beautiful in itself but also when combined with other patterns or plain-colored tea towels.

Wow! That towel was designed over 50 years ago! I love plain weave kitchen towels so I decided I could replicate this one in plain weave.

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And then I looked at it…feeling a little bit like I stole someone else’s design….which I had.

And I showed it to some girlfriends, one of whom thought it had too much white…so I made some adjustments:

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I eliminated the wide white vertical stripe, and the wide white horizontal stripe. And then I looked at it some more and thought…hmmm… so I played around with the proportions of the narrow weft stripes. And looked at it some more . And then I thought … if the white warp stripes change every 8 threads, shouldn’t something be happening on the blue side? So I added a tiny little 2 thread stripe after each set of 14 threads of dark blue. This is what I ended up with:

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I used three colors in the warp…a dark gray or black, a medium blue, and a bright white. For the weft I used white and the same medium blue. I love these towels! They have a crisp graphic design and the plain weave means they are thin and flexible and perfect for drying dishes. I made a second set and replaced the gray stripes with black to go with my daughters dishes. (If she folds them in half they can be used as placemats) I gave my daughter a set of 10 for her wedding shower but I still have a few left over and they are in my store.

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August 2020…How did that happen?

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted on this blog! My daughter got engaged, I broke my wrist, we moved…I have a fabulous yarn room and weaving space!!…My daughter got married….and of course COVID-19 is here.

But we are doing fine…I wove lots, planned a really big wedding…wove some more…realized we could only have 10 guests…planned a really small wedding…then in May our Governor said we could have gatherings of up to 100 in an outdoor setting…took a look at our new, large, three quarters of an acre back yard…and planned a garden party wedding. Which was really lovely! Perfect!….so now I can weave again!

I spent this past weekend dyeing a couple of warps, a roving for spinning and three skeins of silk. My hands are blue!


The roving and two of the warp chains are using the same dyes…shades of blue, gray and brown. I’m kinda in love with this group of colors.

The second roving is paler than I expected, but I have a deflected doubleweave pattern in mind that will let me add a lot of other colors to it.

The third roving is a crazy mess of colors…what was I thinking? I don’t know…not sure if I’m going to over dye the whole thing, or just that ugly fuchsia…I just don’t know quite how that happened!!!

I also dyed three skeins of a raw nubby, very fine silk. I’m going to use them for both warp and weft. I’m hoping those scarfs are Transparent and graceful and I’m also hoping that they are not too tangled to un-skein…really fine, really nubby and really tangley yarn….1,400 yards per 100 grams…which is the same as about 400 yards per ounce….so…we will see how this works…

On my big Macomber loom …Clara is a 40 inch wide, 8 harness loom… is a set of scarfs from the June Handwoven magazine..spider pattern. After I take it off the loom and wash it, the yarn should shrink up slightly and look more like the picture in the magazine.

The small Norwood loom ( I love that dark cherry wood) I have a Chenille scarf set up, but I’m not happy with it, so I’m going to be making some adjustments to that warp…I think I will do a color and weave pattern and make cowls with it.

So that’s what this coming week will look like…Spider scarf weaving, chenille scarf weaving, and maybe a bit of spinning…

I’m listening to a really good audio book..The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian while I weave. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!

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Happy New Year!

Happy new year everyone! I hope this year brings you joy, peace, and success! I’ve been thinking about my weaving year and what I want to get done…so here is my bucket list of weaving stuff for 2018..( I thought if I wrote it down, I might become accountable for at least some of it…)

But first…a teaser.. IMG_3103

Bucket list of weaving stuff

* weave one set of towels a month..even a small set would do

* join the Lowell, Michigan fiber group

* join the Holland, Michigan fiber group and get to some of their meetings

* find a couple of sales not in December

* put more things in my shop and maybe link it to Etsy

*. Figure out Instagram or whatever that picture thing is that Hannah does

* try to spin at least once a week because I am out of colors for my hats

*. Try to use up yarn I already own so no containers are on the floor…

* get something ready for the MLH exhibit…entries are due by Jan 20th-ish

*. Perfect some drafts and market them….which means spend some time writing a detailed recipie and it might also mean that I need to buy Fiberworks software and learn how to use it.

* dye some warps….take Rita s open dyeing day and get there prepared to dye at least 5 warps..or more.

* akkk! And there is probably more….

So, in reviewing this incomplete list I find that I am forced to declare that

January 2018 is the first annual international month of table runners!

That’s right folks! All you weavers get Crackin!

In preparation of this declaration, I have been thinking about this since Christmas, I have been designing an 8 harness rep weave table runner to go with my Tom Campbell pottery. Here are my colors…IMG_1588

This is Dragon Tale Rayon. The variegated yarn has a repeat every 106 inches…which is almost 3 yards. I measured off the stripes of the variegated yarn first by going around my warping board In a circle. I measured the rest of the yarn using the tradition way on my warping board. It’s about 11 inches wide and I love how it is turning out! I think it can be one of my entries for the MLH exhibit next month…I’m hoping to have it done by the end of the week.

I haven’t done rep weave since I took Rosalie Nielsen’s class a few years ago. I have her new book on rep weave, but I need to study it.

I designed this by taking one of Kelly Marshall’s designs out of her book. Then I eliminated half of her blocks. I removed shafts 9 and 10. Then I moved blocks around. Then I changed the order. Then I changed the treading. So essentially, I removed all the careful thought process and reasoning she puts into her design and the Weave-it program and I just truly muddied everything up until I liked how it looks. That’s how to design an 8 harness rep table runner when you don’t understand the technique thoroughly.

I love, love love how the variegated yarn pools… IMG_3104

And this is what it’s looking like after 10 inches…hurrah! IMG-1587IMG_1589

So now I’m going back to my loom! It’s cold here in Michigan, but I’m sending warm wishes for a wonderful year to all of you!

–Rebecca

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Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day!

Okay, I had to do a Wikipedia search to learn about Boxing Day…and since I already have rewarded my two young adult servants fairly well this Christmas, they are receiving nothing more today from me, except leftovers for lunch and a big bowl of chili for dinner.

I hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday season! I haven’t woven anything since the first week of December and I am totally going into withdrawal. I’m in the planning stage…and it’s looking like table runners are first on my list. I had seen a scarf at one of our guild sales a few years ago with a very tight, interesting weave and I put a shout out to the membership of my weavers guild, The Woodland Weavers and Spinners of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s a pattern from Handwoven Magazine, entitled ” Homage to Frank Lloyd Wright”. Which is kinda cool since our FLW house in town is one of the gardens I help take care of In the summer….so I’m looking at what I have on hand, and if I need to get anything new to do a runner…it’s an interesting weave, kinda like rep in that the weft is invisible, and the warp is light, dark, light, dark. So every block can only be one of two colors. Which are carried in the warp. And it’s 60 ends to the inch. Yea gads! That’s crazy dense for 8/2 tencil! One of the things I’ve noticed..about my color choices.. ( and I do love colors). Is that mayhaps I’m weaving some stuff with too many colors…so I’m thinking these table runners may be white, gray and black…with maybe just a pop of blue or orange…( I just heard one of my friends groan about the orange..lol!).

I’m thinking something along these lines….

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Or…. I could do something like this..with a bunch of my usual colors..again, I will have to dig threw my yarn….

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I have rayon…that I bought years ago on a road trip to Asheville , North Carolina (former Beer City, usa…until Grand Rapids, Michigan took that title)

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I have tencil…IMG_1572

So I think I can mix the two of these.

I also have some 10/2 cotton…but not a lot of neutrals available.

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Like I said…I kinda like those oranges and reds..but not sure that’s a table runner that would sell….

So…I will continue to ponder today, and perhaps place an order to Webs, since someone dear to me gave me a gift certificate!!! Hooray!!

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Me and Cally Booker!

I like Cally Booker!   Well, I should first say I’ve never actually met Cally Booker, I lurk around and read her blog, and hero worship from a distance.  But I really really like her!

I want to assure you that I am in no way  near her league of weaving expertise, but we are, at least this month, thinking along the same lines.

I don’t know if you do this, but by the time I’m halfway thru a project…my mind wanders…and I start planning what to do next.  And in the midst of my ugly hipsters scarfs…which are finished and just as ugly as I expected… IMG_1474 I started looking thru my weaving books and thru Pinterest for a new idea.   This is what caught my eye in Strickler’s book…

Look at those sweet squares!    But I didn’t want all the squares to be the same color…and I have this lovely yarn by Freia that I was going to knit a scarf with….IMG_1498this scarf actually…pattern is on ravelry…

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This yarn has incredibly long color changes and I wanted a visible color change of my little squares… and I like both the balls.. so how could I do this?   Weave a row of squares and then change shuttles and weave a row of the other ball?  But still the color change would be sooo slow… and then would I have to cut the yarn every color change?   Aggghhhh!

Oh! But wait!  What if I do a clasped weft? That way I can use both balls, one shuttle,  and the color change will be twice as fast!  Wow!  This should work…I might be kinda brilliant!

Almost as brilliant as Cally Booker…cause in the midst of my three day musing on how to do this…this is the project she posted on her blog:

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She did a dyed warp in the center to get her color shifts, and I have no idea what weave structure that is, but don’t they look like similar ideas?  I can’t believe it,  I’m thinking like Cally Booker!

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It’s September and I need to get busy!!!

Almost everyday I entertain myself while I weave by writing a blog post…in my head.  They don’t get posted..just float around in my mental swamp…but here goes with a real post:

It’s September, and I’d better get busy!  I just looked thru my towels that I have for my two December sales, and I am nowhere near the 60 towels that I want to have.  I have a few new scarfs…but again, nowhere near the 30 new scarfs that I wanted and I also promised myself to have 4 shawls done also.  And I also wanted something small…eyeglass pockets maybe…but would anybody buy those?  And what about my handspun, hand knit hats…should I switch this year and knit fingerless mittens?  Would those sell?regardless, I don’t have any knit yet, in fact I kinda wonder what happened to everything I wove..I thought I had been pretty busy…
Right now I am weaving two scarfs. I had the brilliant idea that I would do some hipster scarfs….here is where I’m going to show my age…because I don’t own any pencil thin black pants …but I could…anyway, I put on a very neutral beige  warp, and have been weaving big blocks of color…but the neutral warp is washing out the color and it’s a big blah thing…maybe I will like them better after the two scarfs are washed…really, I don’t need  to like them as long as some bearded dude with a sleeve of tattoos and his manual typewriter does….

Here is one of them on the loom….see. Washed out…but soft, alpaca and silk….hipsters like natural fibers and farm animals, right?

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I also wove some really nice huck lace scarfs…huck lace and I made friends this summer…I kinda love the weave…both these scarfs are the navy warp ( look at the fringe to see what the warp is) but I changed the supplemental warp stripes on each one and used a violet weft on the second one.  20 ends to the inch.  The supplemental stripes are 20/2 silk, which I doubled so they would stand out a bit more.  Very fun to weave, I think I will do a couple more of them this month.


So, I’m almost done with the Hipster scarfs, and I do have an idea for my next set.  Oh!  My September challenge is 10 scarfs.   Lets see what I can do!

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